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Food for 7 days. Tight budget.

My girlfriend and I are two not-wealthy-at-all college students coming to NOLA from the Seattle area for Spring Break 2010.

We recently looked through Lonely Planet New Orleans and really couldn't find any restaurants that offer food for the budget conscious. I mean, even most po-boys and fried chicken places are at least $10 per person. We are kinda looking to spend $10 between the two of us for a meal. We don't have massive appetites. We've heard that most portions are big so we'd definitely be comfortable splitting entrees. Just that we can't find any places that suit our budget.

Cuisine-wise we are really into Southern Food, Amazing Barbecue (we're suckers for good ribs), Caribbean and Soul Food. We'd love to find a cheap crab or crawfish boil too. We don't want to stick to eating in the fancy tourist areas at all though we don't want to venture into very dangerous territory.

We're also on the lookout for cheap accommodations for $50 or less/night? We do drink and we're also looking for some nice dives to drink away at. Please help out if you can with recommendations. We'll be eternally grateful and have lots of foodie info for the Olympia/Tacoma/Seattle area if you need any. Thanks in advance.

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  1. You can get amazing food from local grocers and neighborhood restaurants. In the French Quarter, go to Verti Mart store for take-out. All of their food in the deli is great. Or split a Muffuletta sandwich from Central Grocery. Sami's Deli on Elysian Fields also offers a great value. Get the Trout Plate and Mac&Cheese. Merline's on Franklin Ave. has the best Roast Beef po-boy $$ less than the Quarter or Uptown.

    2 Replies
    1. re: gentillygal

      In the Warehouse District check out Nola Grocery. Not far from there is Parasol.

      1. re: gentillygal

        Great rec on Sammy's Deli. I just discovered it the other day. The baked beans are amazing and the rest of their sides are really good too.

      2. How much is the Southern/Soul Food buffet at Two Sister's Kitchen at 223 N Derbigny St? Seems like a mostly-locals place, so I imagine prices are pretty reasonable.

        1. I hope this thread gets some attention. In any case, St. Vincent's Guest House is the place to stay, no question about it. For eats, get up to Dunbar's at Loyola University, which is easy to do on the Streetcar. As you mentioned, almost all poorboys offer plenty of food for two, and the drop off between say Parkway Bakery and your run of the mill corner store is sight. There are a number of bars that offer great deals on food during happy hour. The Les Bon Ton Roulette has free oysters of Friday, Luke and Cote Brasserie have oyster happy hours, There is anew taco truck that is front of Dos Jefes on Magazine most nights, there is the tamale girl in the Fauborg Marigny. Mchardy's Fried Chicken on Broad. And the best deal in town, well the quarter at least is Moon Wok on St. Ann which has Bon mih sammy's for $3, or a huge bowl of pho real cheap also. How do you plan on gettiing around? You could look into getting a hold of some beater bike's, look around the bywater area, I believe there are some community type bike shops that have them for sale or rent.

          3 Replies
          1. re: CharlieH

            If you have a splurge night, the Boucherie on Jeanette Street has great value for dinner.

            1. re: CharlieH

              I would stay away from Dunbar's- it's on the Loyola Law campus and the food is generally pretty greasy (not in the good Southern way). However, if you can make it there on a Friday the seafood stuffed bell peppers and baked mac are both really good. The plate is about $10 with tax and it's definitely big enough to share.

              1. re: CharlieH

                Hey CharileH.

                Is there a specific reason why you said we should stay at St. Vincents? Have you stayed there before? Is it a safe neighborhood? We pretty much just need a decent bed and clean bathroom. Nothing too fancy. And what's the transport like from there to the French Quarter and Marigny? I checked bus schedules. They don't run past 11:30 or so at night. Should I be taking taxis to and from? If anyone knows prices for taxis and buses, please let me know.

                Thanks again.

              2. I've never been to Two Sisters at a time that they are having a buffet. I'm not sure that's something they do. However, they do have great plate lunches at very affordable prices, and you will have enough leftovers for at least one more meal if not more. The daily specials are usually very good and filling, like rabbit and dumplings, oxtail stew, stewed chicken, that kind of thing. You can walk there from the French Quarter.

                You can split a poboy pretty much everywhere and have plenty to eat for under $10. Throw in a couple bags of Zapp's and you'll definitely be full. Johnny's, Verti Mart, Quartermaster Deli, and the deli at the corner of Royal and St. Philip all have splittable sandwiches and plate lunches.

                Instead of good BBQ which isn't really worth the trouble to find during your short stay, split a huge burger and baked potato at Yo Mama's or Port of Call.

                Hit Moon Wok at Dauphine and St. Ann and for great banh mi ($3.50) and chargrilled pork. Skip the Chinese food there though and stick with the Vietnamese portion of the menu.

                Check out Bennachin for good West African food and good serving sizes at excellent prices for a little bit of a fancier dinner. You can BYOB too. Pick up whatever you want to drink at Vieux Carre Wine and Spirits on Chartres Street.

                Try Mena's Palace on Chartres for good plate lunches and decent breakfasts.

                For Caribbean you'll have to leave the Quarter and head to either Boswell's on Tulane or Coco Hut on Bayou Road. Google map them; you can get to either one on public transportation.

                Nice places to drink cheaply: the Chart Room on Chartres at Bienville, Erin Rose on Conti just off Bourbon, Johnny White's on St. Peter btw Bourbon and Royal, Harry's at Chartres and Dumaine, Flanagan's on St. Philip, etc. etc. etc. Pretty much any place on Decatur St. closer to the Esplanade end. And be sure to check out Frenchmen Street for bars and live music.

                You didn't mention if you'll have a vehicle. That would open up a whole other world of cheap eats options for you.

                4 Replies
                1. re: uptownlibrarian

                  And Finger Lick'n Wings, 739 Jackson Ave. And thanks for mentioning Boswell's and Coco Hut, hadn't heard of either. ch

                  1. re: uptownlibrarian

                    Also, catch the streetcar down to Loyola Univ and hit Dunbar's for lunch.

                    1. Both the Crescent City Tuesday farmers market Uptown (Broadway & the River) & the Saturday market in the CBD have vendors selling prepared foods. Tuesday has a green plate special always. You can take it and go eat at Audubon Park or out on the "Fly"
                      behind the zoo, where you can see Mississippi River traffic.

                      Charlie H is on target about the bikes. This would be a great way to get around.
                      Although NOLA drivers are not bike savvy so be careful. There's Gerken bikes on
                      St Claude & Port St. (across the street from the Marigny neighborhood), Bicycle Michaels on Frenchmen also in the Marigny. Plan B, the Bike project is on Chartres off Elysian Fields and they too are in the Marigny.

                      There are alot of B & B's (regular and under the radar) in the Marigny and Bywater. Plus you are walking distance to the French Qtr from the Marigny. So google around for that.

                      1. Cochon Butcher, too: sandwiches are huge and come w/chips and a pickle; my husband and I always share them. The other day, I ordered from their "bar food" list something called a duck pastrami slider, for $6. It was actually a delicious whole grilled cheese (w/the duck pastrami of course) sandwich, cut into quarters. I don't know if it's enough for two, but I was quite full after eating 3/4.

                        Also, Taqueria Corona on Magazine: you can order a taco and a side of rice and beans for about $5. That's always plenty for me.

                        Some of the neighborhood and/or divier bars around town will offer free food if you drink there on a Sat. or Sunday, but you have to catch those from their signs. I always see such a sign at the Red Door Lounge on Carrollton in mid-city. (It used to be a real dive, but it's under new management; I haven't been in, but I've seen their free food signs.)

                        A gigantic portion of fabulous parmesan fries at Boucherie is $4; the small portion black jambalaya at Crescent on Banks St. is $5, and they also offer a link of sausage for about that; their beer battered onion rings (very filling) and mac-and-cheese are each $4.

                        Mona's (Middle Eastern; several locations) is very budget friendly.

                        You can buy pizza by the slice at Slice (two locations).

                        If you want BBQ, you can go to Squeal(uptown) or the Joint or Bywater BBQ (both in Bywater) and share a plate or a sandwich.

                        You can also get a plate--or a side order--of red beans and rice at so many places; that's a very filling dish.

                        And maybe this is tacky suggestion, but you can get a whole lot of samples at Whole Foods on weekends and conserve your lunch money for dinner and drinking.

                        And, yes, if you have a vehicle and can get around, you can really find some food bargains. The Cuban food at Union Grocery in Kenner is stellar and dirt cheap. and then there's the Hong Kong market on the West Bank.

                        Crawfish looks to be very expensive this year (and crabs almost always are) so you probably won't be able to manage it on a tight budget.

                        1. If you go to Vaughan's in the Bywater to see Kermit Ruffins on Thursday night, they put out a giant pot of rice and beans between sets for patrons to enjoy -- the best I've ever had. It's a $10 cover, but beers start at $2 -- and you get to see Kermit, which you absolutely will not regret. Consider it a worthwhile splurge.

                          Liuzza's by the Track is mostly in your price range, too -- also cheap beer.

                          Some commenters have alerted 'hounds to deals on restaurant.com - I can't speak from personal experience, but it seems you may be able to get gift certificates at a discount, allowing you to punch above your weight class (so to speak).

                          Good luck sticking to your budget -- a good habit for college students and for the rest of us, too!

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Mark Alberts

                            Better yet, catch Kermit at Bullet's Sports Bar and get some chow from the food truck and grill outside. Now that would be hyperlocal.

                          2. If you go to Mr. B's at lunch there's a $1.50 cocktail menu and you can sit at the bar and split a plate of BBQ shrimp (you're a BBQ guy so you should know that NOLA bbq shrimp is not traditional bbq, t's a buttery bowl of goodness)

                            I think Lil Dizzy's in Treme is cheap, local and very, very good. I was there for sunday brunch and I think it was $15, all you can eat.

                            If you want to splurge for a very memorable meal at $20 per person, lunch at Commander's Palace. A soup+entree can be had for under $20 and they have 25c martinis (but make sure you don't accidentally order a non-25c martini)

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: kukubura

                              Seconded on Commander's...it is more expensive, but the drinking is cheap and the food is exceptional.

                            2. One thing to remember about New Orleans is that there is so much free entertainment here that most people use their money on the food. Some things are worth splurging on like Cochon Butcher. Free things to do in town include walking around the French Quarter, the Garden District and the Riverwalk. It will cost you $1.50 to ride the street car and nothing to walk around Audobon Park or City Park. You can catch plenty of music outside bars in the French Quarter and many bars and clubs offer free music. I'm not sure if they do it anymore, but Le Bons Temps Roule used to offer free oysters on Friday happy hours. Vaughn's on Thursday nights is a great, great call. Enjoy your trip to our great city. It can definitely be done on a budget. I'd probably skip the Lucky Dogs though. :)

                              1. Some bars offer complimentary red beans and rice, especially on Monday's . . . I'm pretty sure Igor's does.

                                1. I would take the street car or Magazine St bus uptown at some point. Joey K's on Magazine is good, plentiful and inexpensive for food and there is Mahony's Po Boys on Mag as well. Ms Mae's, Snake and Jakes dive bar and Bruno's uptown have cheap drinks and drink specials. I'm surprised no one has mentioned Cafe Reconcile which has inexpensive daily plates and helps to train disadvantaged youth in the cooking trade.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: ATLNOBOS

                                    +1 on Ms. Mae's for cheap drinks. It's a great place to stop before a trip to Tipitina's.

                                  2. Raw oysters at Luke. They are 25 cents during happy hour, which is every day from 3-6...even on the weekends.

                                    Also, Handsome Willy's is a bar that is always doing boils and cook outs and what not, and it's free. Every Friday they have "Funk N Crunk" from 5-10 and there's free food and a DJ.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: nikinik

                                      Great tip on free food at Handsome Willy's. Even the food that's not free is cheap. And it's a cool place.

                                      1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                        Oh my god. This is an abundance of great information. Thank you guys so much. I will be forever grateful.

                                        Thank you again.

                                    2. I've written down all this info and if possible, please keep it coming. So far all of you super-awesome and amazing people have really covered our food options. Our accommodations are the only thing left hanging over our heads. We're looking at some hostels right now and India House Backpackers Hostel, AAE Bourbon House Hostel and Joe & Flo's Candlelight Hostel look decent. All of these places offer rooms for close to $50/night. However, other than Joe and Flo's which is on Robertson about 7 or 8 blocks from the FQ, they're located in the LGD, one on Magazine and the other on Annunciation. These seem pretty far from the action in the FQ, Marigny and Bywater areas. With that in mind, getting out at night to go to bars and music shows might be a problem since we don't have our own transportation. Or will it not be a problem?

                                      About B&Bs that are under the radar, are they in the FQ or Marigny area? Any ideas as to what the nightly or weekly rates are at these hidden B&Bs? I've traveled all over the world and have had much luck with B&Bs, hostels and pensions that aren't on the internet but as you all know, this is the first time to New Orleans and apart from our tight budget, I have my girlfriend with me and her safety is my highest priority. I've heard there are some rough neighbourhoods in NOLA and we're obviously not gonna venture into them on purpose but it would be a problem if our hotel/hostel is in one or a rough are is en route to our digs.

                                      Any suggestions? Again, I can't thank you people enough.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: abhimanyu

                                        Hey CharileH.

                                        Is there a specific reason why you said we should stay at St. Vincents? Have you stayed there before? Is it a safe neighborhood? We pretty much just need a decent bed and clean bathroom. Nothing too fancy. And would you know what the commute is like from there to the French Quarter and Marigny? I checked bus schedules. They don't run past 11:30 or so at night. Should I be taking taxis to and from? If anyone knows prices for taxis and buses, please let me know.

                                        Thanks again.

                                        1. re: abhimanyu

                                          India is good...but you're right...it is a bit away from the action, so that could be a problem for you. As far as I've hard, St. Vincent's is safe, but CharlieH might know more than me. I can tell you that it is MUCH more centrally located. They also have a little restaurant there called Garden's Edge, and you can even get certificates for it on Restaurant.com.